Monday, February 08, 2010

How come your kids don't know that?

The Review Crew has started a sort of mini-carnival each week, with a homeschooling question to answer. The question for this week is "How do you know if your kids are keeping up with their peers?" (Click on the ship to see more entries--they will be posted on Tuesday.)
I guess you could rephrase that "How do you know they know what they're supposed to know?"

I've never worried much about that. First of all, it depends on who's making the list of what kids are supposed to know. Maybe their list isn't the same as mine, but who's to say that theirs is better, even if "they" might be the provincial government? Better for whom? I was never that interested in having standardized kids.

Second, even people who have gone through a whole education system have often missed something. Or a lot of things. How else to account for all those surveys that show how many of us don't know the most basic facts of geography, or physics, or about the Bible? I was reading something just this weekend from someone in New Mexico who kept having phone order takers insist that New Mexico wasn't a state. Someone else added that they'd had similar trouble living in Delaware.
Third, even if we do miss something, it's usually fairly easy to fill in or catch up. I may have posted before about Ponytails' teacher last year (when she was in public school) having a "thing" about graphing--it's not something we spend a lot of formal time on here, but it doesn't take a lot of time to explain. When The Apprentice started tenth-grade math in public high school, we had covered most of the elementary algebra topics at home (mostly using and a couple of library books), but again hadn't done much co-ordinate geometry. She knew the concepts as far as quadratic equations; just had somehow missed out on the "rise over run" part. But no big deal--have you ever known a high school course not to start with a quick review of last year's work? She caught up quickly and has gotten high marks in math ever since.
Finally, the Squirrelings (and most other homeschooled kids I know of) usually know about a lot of interesting things that aren't on the "standardized" list, or sometimes aren't even in the homeschool plan. Crayons just called me a few minutes ago to say that a whole bunch of chickadees were outside the window. She got all interested awhile back in John Haywood's Atlas of Past Times. (She's also one of the youngest kids I know who can tell you about "a master bedroom with an ensuite." Too much experience with open houses?) Ponytails' grade seven curriculum includes logic, money management, photography, nineteen-century world history, French verbs, and Plutarch's Life of Poplicola; but she's also following her own interests, right now mostly in things like design. She also made us ham and cheese crepes for lunch.
So do I ever get worried enough to look through the provincial standards and wonder if we're doing it wrong? Honestly, no--well, hardly ever. With Ponytails being home right now for one or maybe two more years before high school, yes, I did have a look through the middle school topics. I printed out the guidelines for French, and considered whether or not it would be worthwhile adjusting our history and science to include what the public schools were doing. (We decided not to.) But we were more interested in using this time to work on what Ponytails needs to work on. And what she's interested in. And what our homeschool curriculum suggests. That's more than good enough, in Mama Squirrel's opinion.


Debra said...

Standardized kids. Love it. :)

Great post.

Jeanne said...

I totally agree. Jemimah will have different gaps from her school educated peers, that's all. Different. Not less; not more. Hopefully I will be able to instil in her a love for learning, so that if she wants to know something she has missed out on, then like your girls, she will know how to learn it. That's what we do if we identify a gap in our knowledge as adults, isn't it - if we want to know the information we set out to learn it!

I enjoyed this post very much.